Jewels from Al Thani collection to wow at autumn V&A exhibition


The V&A museum in London is set to host a large-scale historical exhibition of more than 100 objects from or inspired by the jewellery traditions of the Indian subcontinent, drawn from a single private collection.

The showcase will open in November with an array of precious stones of the kind collected by Mughal Emperors in the 17th century and objects used in royal ceremonies.

The exhibition, titled Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection, will reveal the influence of India on jewellery made by leading European houses in the early 20th century and display contemporary pieces with an Indian theme made by modern masters.

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Highlights include an Indian turban jewel made for the Maharaja of Nawanagar set with large diamonds; unmounted precious stones including a Golconda diamond given to Queen Charlotte by the Nawab of Arcot, South India in 1767; Mughal jades such as a jade-hilted dagger that belonged to the 17th-century emperor Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal; a jewelled gold tiger’s head finial from the throne of the famed Tipu Sultan of Mysore; pieces from the collections of the Nizams of Hyderabad who possessed legendary wealth; and jewels from the early 20th century by Cartier. There will also be contemporary pieces made by JAR of Paris and Bhagat of Mumbai which combine Mughal inspiration and Art Deco influences.

The objects are drawn from the Al Thani collection, known for the quality and size of its precious stones, both unmounted and set in jewellery. It reflects India’s position over many centuries as an international market for precious stones, including diamonds from its famous Golconda mines, emeralds from South America, rubies from Burma, spinels from central Asia and sapphires from Sri Lanka.

The Mughal emperors and their successors used objects made of luxury materials in their court rituals and the exhibition will highlight the techniques used by goldsmiths in the Indian subcontinent to make them.

The exhibition also includes three important loans from the Royal Collection, lent by Her Majesty The Queen including a jewelled bird from the gold canopy of Tipu Sultan’s throne.

Martin Roth, director of the V&A says: “This is a fascinating insight into a great private collection that includes extraordinary precious stones. The exquisite quality and craftsmanship of many fine pieces from and inspired by India complement the V&A’s own South Asian and jewellery collections and will be a spectacular element of the Museum-wide India Festival this autumn.”

The exhibition will be sponsored by Wartski. Nicholas Snowman, chairman of Wartski, comments: “We are delighted to be sponsoring this magnificent exhibition at the V&A in this, the 150th year of the foundation of our company. Wartski and the V&A have a long history of shared scholarship, loans and gifts. This happy association was cemented at the ‘Fabergé’ exhibition curated by my father, the firm’s chairman, Kenneth Snowman in 1977. Family connections with the V&A continued in 1988 when my wife, Margo Rouard-Snowman, co-curated ‘Avant Première’ and in 2002, when Geoffrey Munn, our Managing Director, presented the exhibition ‘Tiaras’.”  T

The exhibition will be arranged in sections exploring different elements of evolving styles and techniques.

Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection opens November 21 2015 and runs until March 28 2016, with tickets priced at £10


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